Sunday, February 11, 2007

Baba Ganouj

I love appetizers. In fact, I could easily make a meal of them and skip the entree. So when I was invited to a friend's birthday party and asked to bring an appetizer, I was delighted! A "mini meal"! I decided on something I hadn't made in many years - baba ganouj. I have an old cookbook called "A Book Of Middle Eastern Food", written by an Egyptian exile named Claudia Roden. Her description of the "smoky" taste of the eggplant combined with the strong taste of the tahini as "exciting and vulgarly seductive" drew me in to trying this dish many years ago. It has never disappointed me, and it proved to be a hit at the party.

Firm, ripe eggplant, and creamy, smooth tahini

Her recipe is for a large amount, and she states that "the ingredients are added almost entirely to taste, the harmony of flavors depending on the size and flavor of the eggplants used."

3 large eggplants
2-4 cloves of garlic, or to taste
1/2 cup tahini or less, depending on the size of the eggplants
juice of 3 lemons, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
a few black olives or 1 tomato, thinly sliced, to garnish

Cook the eggplants over charcoal or under a gas or electric broiler until the skin blankens and blisters. Peel and wash the eggplants, and squeeze out as much of the bitter juice as possible.

Crush the garlic cloves with salt. Mash the eggplants with a potato masher or fork (or food processor), then add the crushed garlic and a little more salt and mash till smooth (or puree in processor.)

Add tahini and lemon juice alternately, blending for a few seconds between each addition. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, garlic or tahini if you think it necessary and if you like, a little cumin.

Pour the cream into a bowl or a few smaller serving dishes. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and black olives, or with a few tomato slices. Serve as an appetizer with pita bread wedges.

In Chinese Medicine, eggplants are considered to be beneficial for the kidneys. As winter is considered to be the time of the kidneys, eggplant is a perfect winter food. Tahini can be found in grocery stores, sometimes near the peanut butter. It is made of sesame seeds, which are considered to be a "yin" tonic. In other words, they nourish the body's fluids. The mixture of eggplant with tahini is considered soothing, and can help insomnia and restlessness. Besides which, it just tastes so good!!

This post is my entry into the Weekend Herb Blogging Event hosted by Kalyn's Kitchen

For more health news, visit Mission Valley Acupuncture


Kalyn Denny said...

Nice job on this entry. I love Baba Ganouj (many spellings of it, I've discovered!) But I have never tried making it myself. I've seen this cookbook and thought of buying it, need to look for it again.

Chris said...

This is cool - never heard of it before. Since I believe the weather is quite nice over in your neck of the woods, I will be over to try it...:) And - I can't wait to try your Carrot Ginger soup when I get back from B-Ham. All the ingredients are ready for the pot!

Toni said...

It was published in '68, so if you could find it, it would definitely be in a used book venue. And yes, I've seen baba ganouj spelled lots of different ways, too!

It rained today, but will probably be sunny tomorrow. C'mon over! You're welcome any time!

Helene said...

Hello Toni,
Thanks a lot for the recipe. I´m fond of eggplants and usually buy sort of baba ganouj at our local market with an greek seller. I am very delighted to do it on my own. :))

Gattina Cheung said...

"mini meal" suits me well! I didn't know eggplant has such a great medical value, only know it tastes terrific! Love your recipe too!

Patricia Scarpin said...


"Mini meals" is just adorable - may I use this term? ;)

I've never had baba ganouj, and I should try it, since I love eggplants!

Toni said...

Helene - If your Greek seller roasts his eggplants on a grill, then I'm sure his baba ganouj is wonderful. But it's still worth making it. Your blog is beautiful, by the way!

Gattina - Glat you like the recipe! One of the cool parts of Chinese medicine is that everything has a medicinal value. So it's fun to combine great meals with healing.

Patricia - Yes, of course, use the term "mini meal." I loved your pastel recipe! I'm putting a link to your blog on mine, sistah!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Claudia Roden's book is one of the mainstays of my culinary library; I use it all the time. I didn't know about eggplant and the kidneys -- interesting information.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Baba ganouj is a favorite of mine as is Claudia Roden, so I really like this post! Tahini is soothing too? No wonder why I'm so content after eating it.;)

Toni said...

Lydia and Susan - I'm delighted to know that others have this wonderful cookbook! I just finished the last of the baba ganouj today. ;-(

Vicki said...

Hi Toni - Just found your blog via Stephencooks, and I love it. I live in SD County (love the rain right now!), and (from a brief perusal of your past posts) I have the same attitudes towards food/diet/cooking that you do. Atkins-be-damned, everything in moderation, and listen to your body when it tells you that you're craving salt! Eagerly awaiting future posts...

Toni said...

Hi Vicky,
Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the rain has been great - we've needed it, for sure.
Glad you like my approach to food/diet/cooking. Tried checking out your blog, but there were no posts. Hope you join us in the blogosphere soon!

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks for the recipe! I love baba, but nearly always get it pre-made since we have tried to make it ourselves and it never comes out the same. Your recipe and details give me inspiration to try again :)

Toni said...

Mike - Thanks for stopping by! The whole trick is in the grilling of the eggplant. It doesn't really taste the same if you bake it in the oven, or even broil it in the oven. It has to be grilled. The recipe I used called for grilling on charcoal, but I have a gas grill and it worked perfectly. Do give it a try and let me know how it worked!